Recently, I posted about a study done at Blue Pearl showing that canine parvovirus cases were up 70% when compared to previous years. As stated in that blog, veterinarians are concerned how the on-going coronavirus pandemic has impacted clients’ ability to get preventive care for their pups. Curious as to how things are going here in Central Indiana, I did a very non-scientific polling of our Noah’s 24 Hour Animal Hospital and our 2 Veterinary Specialty and Emergency Care facilities.
To date, January through July of 2020, combined our three emergency hospitals have performed more than 500 canine parvovirus tests. This is a 63% increase in testing over the same period in 2019. More specifically, our Noah’s 24 Hour Animal Hospital has tested almost double the number of patients in that time frame, 217 this year vs 118 last year. The Noah’s Westside location has tested 182 vs. 114 in 2019 and the VSEC hospital on the southside has tested 24 more patients this year to date when compared to last year.
Not all parvo tests end up being positive, but we can safely say that at least 25% of the tests (at one location) came back positive, indicating an active canine parvovirus infection. Extrapolating this across all three hospitals, we can now estimate that our Noah’s ER facilities have found about 120 positive cases of this deadly disease during the first 7 months of this year.
While many people consider parvo to be a “puppy” disease, we have seen more than a dozen dogs over the age of 7 months presenting for this disease in 2020, highlighting the important fact that vaccination status is crucial to protecting our pups. When I reviewed the records for the “older” dogs who were positive for parvovirus, vaccine history was not well documented or even known. What is known is that these older, bigger dogs require more medications and more fluids than their younger counterparts and this could lead to a higher cost of hospitalization and treatment. What’s more….acquaintances and friends in other ER facilities in Indianapolis are reporting similar cases…I know that’s anecdotal data, but it does make you wonder what’s happening…
So, again, what’s the solution? VACCINATION!! Listen to your pet’s veterinarian about the proper vaccination intervals for puppies and re-vaccination as adults. The American Animal Hospital Association’s (AAHA) guidelines for vaccination recommends starting vaccines for core diseases, like canine distemper, canine parainfluenza, and canine parvovirus as early as 6 weeks and providing boosters every 2-4 weeks until 16 weeks or older. After the puppy series, adult boosters at 1 year of age and then every 3 years thereafter should provide protection for most dogs.
It’s interesting to note that 50-55% of dogs who aren’t vaccinated after 12 weeks are not properly immunized. Even at 16 weeks, 15% of pups still have persistent maternally derived antibodies that could be blocking proper immunization of the pet. Other unconfirmed estimates show that about 1 in 1000 dogs will never respond to parvovirus vaccination because they are “genetic non-responders”, simply incapable of mounting the proper immune response. AAHA further reminds us that “no vaccine is consider 100% effective in 100% of vaccinates”
But, the odds are still in your favor when you choose to vaccinate your pup! He or she will be protected from serious, sometimes deadly, diseases and your family won’t run the risk of losing a beloved family member. If you have recently adopted a new pup or even an older dog, don’t wait to make that appointment with your family veterinarian. Our teams just want to make sure that your new furry friend has the best chance to live a long and healthy life with you!